Anchorage, Alaska, holds a distinct place in the hearts and minds of adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and culture seekers alike. Nestled within the dramatic backdrop of the Chugach Mountains, Anchorage is a city that embodies the spirit of the ‘Last Frontier.’ Renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes, it’s a gateway to glaciers, national parks, and wildlife encounters that stir the soul. But Anchorage is more than just a base camp for outdoor adventures. From world-class museums to the warm and welcoming spirit of its people, many things put Anchorage on the map. Whether you are looking to rent an apartment in Anchorage or purchase a home in the area on Redfin, get to know 10 things that Anchorage, Alaska, is known for.
1. It’s the largest city in Alaska
Anchorage is the state’s largest and most populous city. With a population of around 285,000 residents, it serves as Alaska’s economic, cultural, and transportation hub. Residents love living in Anchorage for its unparalleled access to breathtaking natural landscapes, offering endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and a deep connection with nature, and enjoying a strong sense of community.
2. Alaska Zoo
The Alaska Zoo showcases the unique wildlife and rich biodiversity of the ‘Last Frontier.’ Established in 1969, the zoo spans about 25 acres and provides a home to over 100 species of animals, including native Alaskan species and exotic animals from around the world. Visitors can encounter iconic Alaskan wildlife, such as grizzly bears, moose, musk oxen, and wolves, as well as exotic animals like Amur tigers, snow leopards, and African elephants. The zoo also hosts educational programs, interactive exhibits, and special events to promote awareness and appreciation for wildlife conservation.
3. Access to the outdoors
Anchorage offers unparalleled access to the outdoors, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Stunning natural landscapes surround the city, including the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and nearby national parks like Denali National Park. Chugach State Park offers vast wilderness areas for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. The best trails include Flattop Mountain Trail, Thunderbird Falls Trail, and Mount Baldy Loop.
For those who love to be on the water, the Cook Inlet provides opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and boating. The nearby Turnagain Arm is a popular spot for birdwatching and observing the fascinating tidal bore phenomenon. During the winter months, residents can enjoy activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. The city also hosts the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a thrilling event celebrating Alaska’s rich dog sledding heritage.
Alaska is well known for its spectacular glaciers, but did you know Anchorage serves as a gateway to some of the most impressive icy landscapes in the state? One of the most iconic glaciers near Anchorage is the Portage Glacier. Located within the Chugach National Forest, the glacier was formed thousands of years ago during the last ice age when massive ice sheets covered the region. Visitors can take a boat tour or hike to the glacier’s viewing area, where they can check out the blue ice and towering walls of the glacier up close.
5. Kincaid Park
Kincaid Park is a hidden gem known for its expansive, diverse outdoor scenery and access to outdoor recreation. Spanning over 1,500 acres, the park has a lot to offer. One of the park’s highlights is its extensive trail system, which winds through coastal forests, meadows, and the scenic bluffs overlooking the Cook Inlet. Hikers and trail runners can explore over 40 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, whereas bikers can enjoy the exhilarating singletrack trails designed specifically for mountain biking.
6. Northern Lights viewing
Although Anchorage is located at a lower latitude than other parts of Alaska, it occasionally experiences the dazzling display of the Aurora Borealis. To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Anchorage, it’s advisable to visit during the winter months, particularly from late September to early April, when the nights are longer and darker. Look for nights with clear skies and head to locations away from city lights to reduce light pollution, such as nearby parks or open areas. The most common colors visible in Anchorage are green and sometimes pink, with the lights dancing across the night sky.
7. Anchorage Museum
The largest museum in the state, Anchorage Museum is a vibrant cultural institution that celebrates the art, history, and diverse heritage of Alaska. From indigenous peoples and early explorers to the modern era, the Anchorage Museum takes visitors on a journey through time, highlighting the stories of various communities. The museum also houses an extensive collection of contemporary and traditional artwork. Visitors can explore a range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and installations.
8. Whale watching
Anchorage serves as a convenient starting point for whale-watching adventures, with various opportunities available along the state’s stunning coastline. One of the most popular whale-watching destinations near Anchorage is the Kenai Fjords National Park, located a few hours south of the city. The park is home to several species of whales, including humpback whales, orcas, and gray whales. Boat tours departing from Seward, a scenic coastal town, offer visitors the chance to observe these magnificent creatures up close.
9. Eklutna Lake
Eklutna Lake is a freshwater lake located approximately 40 miles northeast of Anchorage. Nestled within the Chugach Mountains, the lake offers a tranquil retreat. One of the primary attractions of Eklutna Lake is its stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by rugged peaks and lush forests, the lake boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters. The scenic backdrop makes it an ideal location for photography, picnicking, and relaxing.
10. The midnight sun
Situated at a high latitude, Anchorage lies within the Arctic Circle, resulting in extended daylight during the summer. From late May to early August, the city experiences the phenomenon known as the “midnight sun,” where the sun remains above the horizon even at midnight. This creates a surreal and magical atmosphere, with a twilight-like glow that bathes the city throughout the night.